How would one describe long layovers? Some keywords would be: Dreary, boring and tedious, and those words would all be true, unless your layover is in Singapore! Layovers in Singapore are very common for people en-route to many places in Asia and South Pacific. So with that in mind, Singapore and Changi Airport know that tourists have to be entertained and boy, have they outdone themselves!
Singapore is a small but beautiful metropolitan city located at the tip of Malaysia. Affectionately known to many as The Little Red Dot, there are countless of wonders to be seen in Singapore. Singapore is a food and shopping hub and that seems to be the backbone of Singaporean life so you definitely won’t run out of anything to do whilst staying in Singapore. Seize the opportunity and explore what is available both inside and outside the airport. Who knows? You might find your new travel destination whilst spending a short time here.
If you have a shorter layover, it might not be ideal to leave the airport, but there are still plenty of things to do whilst you’re inside the airport, so read on to see what are some of the things you can do during a layover in Singapore!
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Inside Changi Airport
Changi Airport is Singapore’s primary airport and ranks as one of the world’s busiest airports. It has a great reputation for being clean, spacious and having extremely efficient staff, so much so that it was once again crowned the World’s Best Airport by Skytrax for the fourth consecutive time. We can definitely see why, because there’s plenty to do inside the airport that you might not even feel like leaving its premises!
Singapore Changi Airport
Website: Singapore Changi Airport
1. Catch a blockbuster (or two) at the movie theatre (Terminal 2 & 3)
Changi Airport is one of the airports that boast two movie theatres in two of its terminals so you should definitely make use of it to keep you entertained during your boring layover. Even better, it’s open for 24 hours and there are no admission fees, so take advantage of this chance to watch a blockbuster, or all of them if you have the time! For more information regarding the movie theatre, or if you want to check out the movie schedules, drop by the website linked below!
Website: Movie Theatre
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2. Feel like a kid again on the Slide (Terminal 3)
The Slide @ T3 has the honour of being the tallest slide in Singapore and the world’s tallest slide in an airport. Standing at four storeys tall, you’ll definitely shriek when coming down that slide. While you’re shopping at the multitude of duty-free stores, make sure to hold on to your receipts, because with every 10 SGD (7 USD) spent, you’ll be able to redeem a ride on the slide! But for a short preview, you can just slide down the one-and-a-half storey tall slide. This is a wonderful activity for families with children or adults who are kids at heart.
The Slide @ T3
Website: The Slide @ T3
3. Brighten up your day at the Sunflower Garden (Terminal 2)
The Sunflower Garden is one of the beautiful gardens that are scattered across the three different terminals. Our favourite garden to visit is definitely the Sunflower Garden because of how bright, welcoming and vibrant it is.
Dropping by the garden will definitely be a highlight of your layover because it’ll surely brighten up your entire day and put a smile on your face. Just remember to take a photo with the sunflowers for a keepsake of your short trip here!
Website: Sunflower Garden
4. Jewel Changi Airport
The 137,000-square-meter extension of Changi Airport’s already luxurious facilities offers plenty of diversions for travellers stuck in the airport on a long layover. Upon entering the Jewel, visitors are greeted with a magnificent sight of a 40-meter-tall (around 130 feet) Rain Vortex, with hundreds of gallons of water spilling over the rim of a huge oculus and cascading down seven stories of shopping space supplemented with lush garden terraces, activity areas, restaurants and more. Besides the usual shopping and dining, you could take a stroll green sanctuary of the Forest Valley and Petal Garden, lose yourself in the largest hedge maze in Singapore or watch a movie at an 11-cinema IMAX theatre. All of which makes for a marvellous trip without taking a step out of the airport.
Jewel Changi Airport
Address: 78 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819666
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Access: Take the MRT to the Changi Airport Station (CG2). Jewel is accessible via link bridges located at level 2 of Terminals 2 and 3.
From Terminal 1: Jewel is connected to the Arrival Hall (level 1) of Terminal 1.
From Terminal 2: a 5 to 10-minute walk via a link bridge from the Departure Hall (level 2) of Terminal 2 (near row 1)
From Terminal 3: a 5 to 10-minute walk via a link bridge from the Departure Hall (level 2) of Terminal 3 (near row 11)
From Terminal 4: Take the free airport shuttle bus service that plies between Terminal 4 and Terminal 2 and then proceed from Terminal 2
Website: Jewel Changi Airport
Outside Changi Airport
Before leaving Singapore, you should definitely make sure to check that you are legally allowed to leave the airport. Most nationalities shouldn’t face an issue, but it doesn’t hurt to check if you’re part of the majority. Check the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority’s website for more information and you can even apply for a visa if necessary.
1. Hop onboard the free Singapore Tour (Terminal 2 & 3)
If you have a layover of at least six hours, you can take up the Changi Airport’s Free Singapore Tour. There are two types of tours available and they’re the Heritage Tour and the City Sights Tour.
The Heritage Tour runs four times a day and starts at the Colonial District before heading to the City Business District, Merlion Park, Chinatown, Little India, and then you’ll have a 20-minute stopover at Kampong Glam before you’re sent back to Changi Airport.
The City Sights Tour runs twice a day and starts at the Singapore Flyer before heading to the Esplanade, Marina Bay Financial Centre, Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, and then there’s a 30-minute stopover at Gardens by the Bay before you’re sent back to Changi Airport. However, the itinerary may change depending on weather and traffic conditions.
Make sure to check the link below for more information about the tour.
Free Singapore Tour
Website: Free Singapore Tour
2. Plan your own tour around the city
If you want to head out of the airport or shop without any fuss, you can leave your luggage at the baggage storage. This service is available for 24 hours and you can check out the fees over here.
If you want to head into the city on your own, you could always grab a taxi from any one of the taxi stands scattered around the airport. It’ll take you around 30 minutes for you to get from the airport to the city centre, and it’ll cost you about 18 USD, so make sure to keep some spare cash on hand.
However, Singapore has a very efficient and reliable public transportation system so we can wholeheartedly recommend getting around Singapore using the MRT (Singapore’s railway system). The nearest MRT station is actually located within the airport and it’s the Changi Airport MRT Station.
For your convenience, you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass for around 7 USD and that will allow you unlimited rides on the MRT. Remember to return the card so you can get a refund! From the airport, it’ll take you around 40 minutes to get to the city centre, so be sure to set aside ample time for travelling.
Singapore Tourist Pass
Website: Singapore Tourist Pass
Our recommendations of places of interest
1. Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay truly does represent Singapore’s ‘City in a Garden’ reputation. Gardens by the Bay is a huge and modern attraction with wonderful waterfront views and consists of two main areas – Bay South Garden and Bay East Garden. We recommend visiting three places in particular - The Supertree Grove, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. These amazing and majestic structures are known as Supertrees and 12 out of 18 of them are found in the Supertree Grove. For tourists who enjoy a bit of an adrenaline rush, you can head up to the 22-metre-high (72 feet) OCBC Skywalk, a suspension bridge that connects two of the Supertrees to one another. It’ll cost about 4 USD for children and 6 USD for adults and senior citizens. You’ll get an unbelievable view of the entirety of the Gardens and feel as though you’re at the top of the world from the OCBC Skywalk. And if you’re there after the sun sets, find a great and unhindered spot to watch the daily light and sound show, the Garden Rhapsody, which takes place at 7.45pm and 8.45pm. The Cloud Forest is one of the domes and it replicates the cool moist conditions found in tropical mountain regions. It features a 35-metre-tall (114 feet) mountain covered in lush vegetation with a large waterfall and the water hitting your face feels amazing. Before leaving this dome, take the lift to the top of the mountaintop and take a stroll along a walkway in the clouds. The Flower Dome has a wonderful reputation of being the largest greenhouse in the world. It’s perpetually spring in this dome and features plants and flowers found in the cool-dry Mediterranean climate and learn about how they have also adapted to the cool-dry environments. Being surrounded by beautiful floral displays and being educated about those plants, what more can you ask for? Even better, there’s a changing floral display, so make sure to check the website for more information!
Gardens by the Bay
Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953
Price: 11 USD (Children), 21 USD (Adults) for both cooled conservatories.
Opening Hours: 5am - 2am (Outdoor Gardens). Check this for more information.
Closest MRT Station: Bayfront
Website: Gardens by the Bay
2. ArtScience Museum
The ArtScience Museum is a large and modern museum located within Marina Bay Sands and is the world’s first ArtScience Museum. According to the ArtScience Museum, it aims to explore the creative processes at the heart of art, science, technology and culture, and their roles in shaping society. It has a permanent exhibition but it also hosts touring exhibitions curated by other museums. Before visiting, you should definitely check what exhibitions are going on in the museum!
Address: Marina Bay Sands, 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974.
Price: 8 USD (Child), 13 USD (Adult). Check this for more information.
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 7:00pm. Including public holidays. Last admission at 6:00pm.
Closest MRT Stations: Bayfront, Promenade and Marina Bay
Website: ArtScience Museum
3. Orchard Road
For our friends who enjoy shopping, they would definitely have heard and dreamed of heading to Orchard Road! Orchard Road is an extremely popular tourist destination and is Singapore’s main retail and entertainment hub. The stretch is flanked by countless shopping malls, each featuring many brands - upscale or not. The largest mall in the area is Ngee Ann City, and within that large building is Takashimaya and Kinokuniya, so it’s definitely a must-visit!
Address: Orchard Road
Price: Depends on what stores you’re going to.
Opening Hours: Depends on which malls you’re heading to.
Closest MRT Stations: Dhoby Ghaut, Somerset and Orchard.
Website: Orchard Road
4. Maxwell Food Centre
Maxwell Food Centre is definitely a quintessential hawker centre to visit for excellent and reasonably priced food! So many treasures lie within its midst and you can get authentic Singaporean food fare inside. Many of the stores have been featured in local TV programmes and it comes highly recommended by many locals.
We definitely recommend heading to Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice for a fragrant, scrumptious and authentic take of a local favourite, Hainanese chicken rice. Also, quench your thirst with a refreshing and cheap cup of sugar cane juice!
Maxwell Food Centre
Address: 1 Kadayanallur St, 069184
Price: from 3 USD
Opening Hours: 8am - 10pm
Closest MRT Stations: Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown.
Chinatown is a place where you can discover the history of Singaporean Chinese culture. It’s now evolved into a location where both the past and present meet, with traditional Chinese shops and hip cafes existing in the same space. Many stores line the narrow streets and you’re able to buy reasonably priced souvenirs for your friends and family. If you get hungry, you can drop by Chinatown Food Street where several hawkers sell traditional Singaporean cuisine.
Address: Chinatown, Singapore
Price: Depends on the stores you’re visiting.
Opening Hours: Depends on the stores you’re visiting.
Nearest MRT Station: Chinatown
Website: Chinatown Singapore
6. Merlion Park
You should definitely head over to Merlion Park before you head back to the airport. The merlion is one of Singapore’s famous icons and is a mythical creature that is half-lion and half-fish. The fish body represents Singapore’s humble beginnings as a fishing village and the lion head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, which translates to Lion City.
Merlion Park is definitely a place you should visit because it’s a popular and iconic tourist attraction. Definitely take some time to take amazing and fun selfies that will surely make your friends green with envy!
Address: One Fullerton, Singapore 049213
Opening Hours: Open 24/7.
Nearest MRT Station: Raffles Place MRT
Contact: +65 67366622
Website: Merlion Park on YourSingapore
Small but mighty Singapore
Despite being a tiny island state, there are plenty of things to do whilst you’re in Singapore, so you shouldn’t ever worry about having a boring layover in Singapore. However, remember that you’re only here for a short while and that you’ll have to eventually head back to the airport. Keep in mind that you’ll need enough time to get back to the airport, there might be traffic on the way back, and you’ll need to grab your luggage and go through security so definitely set aside ample time to do all that. We’re so sure that you’ll fall in love with Singapore, so have a great time if you ever have a layover here! You can also check out the other Singapore guide at Travellerspoint.
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